Butterfly Bulletin:Hatches, caterpillars are very medium

Hey Kidspace Kids,

Kristen here with another Kidspace SSHHH report!

This week our caterpillar friends have been continuing to eat, eat some more, and then KEEP EATING! They are starting to get noticeably bigger, and the munching has gotten noticeably louder. Since the reverberations of caterpillar chewing caused us to temporarily vacate the headquarters, we are making sure to drop by a few times a day to visit with our friends and make sure they are doing well! Their mouths are always full, so it's hard to make out exactly what they are saying - but their enthusiastic nods and rapid growth let us know they are doing well!

3219 While we are in the SSHHH, we also make sure to water their plants (at least, what's left of them) and clean up their frass.

Wait - you don't know what frass is? Oh... well - hmm... how do I put this? Are your parents around? This is kind of embarrassing. You see, when an animal eats, what goes in - uhhhh - must go out? That is to say... well, frass... frass is poop. It is a term that usually refers to the poop of larvae, like caterpillars. Lucky for our Animal Ambassador team, it is easy to clean up because it is a small, dry pellet (something that looks like a round bead or ball).

Like other types of animal poop, frass has nutrients in it that are good for plants, so many gardeners buy it to mix into their soil - which is exactly where we have been putting ours! So yeah, watch out for those brown pellets in the garden if you visit this week.

This week we also noticed these weird spikey, dried up balls on the ground a couple of times. On upon investigation, we have determined they are the 3220 molts of the caterpillars!

Okay hold on, let's back up! What is a molt exactly?

Butterflies belong to a group of animals called arthropods - which means the hard part of their body is on the outside of their body and is called an exoskeleton (exo means ‘outer’). To compare, our skeletons are on the inside of our bodies and are called an endoskeleton (endo means ‘inner’).

Because exoskeletons are hard, animals that have one have to shed it in order to grow, and then re-harden a new one. This process is called molting, and a molt (like the ones we found on the floor of the SSHHH) is an old exoskeleton that has been left behind.

Before a butterfly molts into a chrysalis, it first molts into different sizes of caterpillars. The time between each size, or between molts, is called an instar. Since most caterpillars have 4-5 instars, we think our friends probably have a few days to go before turning into a chrysalis!

That’s all the updates for this week, in the meantime - be sure to join us for these upcoming Butterfly Celebration Happenings :

- Caterpillar Adoption is still open in our Busy Bee Store

- Every weekend this month, join us to make a Chrysalis Carrier for your adopted caterpillar!

- Are your butterflies starting to emerge? Join us for a butterfly Exploration daily at 11:45 am - to release your butterfly and hang a paper butterfly in its honor in our Wisteria Walkway.

- Continue to look for butterfly costumes, books, and more in our Roberts Pavilion

Kristen

SSHHH Special Reports